Webster University's women's soccer team improved to 2-1 on the season by besting the Fontbonne…
Women’s soccer reloads after loss of top two goal scorers
Last season marked the first time in 10 years the Webster University women’s soccer team failed to reach the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game.
With last year’s top scorers Christy Capkovic (18 goals) and Megan Niederschulte (14 goals) graduated, coach Luigi Scire and the women’s soccer team will rely on senior leadership and freshman talent to get back to the SLIAC championship game.
“From 2000 to 2009, we’ve been the only team to get to the conference championship 10 years in a row,” Scire said. “Last year, we had a minor hiccup. That’s something we’re trying to get back at.”
Webster was defeated by eventual conference champion Principia 3-0 in last year’s SLIAC tournament semifinal game. The Gorloks finished with an overall record of 12-8 and a conference record of 6-2.
Failing to reach the conference championship has the Gorloks ranked third in the SLIAC preseason polls, their lowest ranking in 12 years with Scire as coach.
“Preseason polls don’t mean much because as coaches we really don’t know what we’ve brought in,” Scire said. “If you look at the preseason poll, and you look at the final results from last year, it basically mirrors that. It doesn’t matter. You still got to go out and play.”
Senior midfielder and co-captain Morgan Milfeld is determined to lead the team back to the conference championship game and beyond.
“This year, the team plans on going further than any previous teams before us,” Milfeld said. “We want to make a name for ourselves again to be one of the top competitors in our region. Our main goal is to redeem the conference title over Principia.”
The team will have to replace the scoring attack vacated by Capkovic and Niederschulte in order to get back to the conference championship game.
Scire believes senior Amanda Zeier and freshmen forwards Kortney Luaders, Lauren Scalise and Kristin Montgomery can fill that void right away.
“We have a very strong recruiting class coming in,” Scire said. “I believe we have individuals who can step in and fill that void, and do it very well beginning this year.”
Milfeld isn’t worried about losing the team’s two top scorers from last year.
“I don’t think that will affect us in any way,” Milfeld said. “We have a few strong, solid newcomers that are stepping up and taking charge, as well as some veterans.”
Freshmen and sophomores outnumber the juniors and seniors 15 to 10, and the team only brings back five returning starters. The upperclassmen will have to lead the young players for the team to succeed.
The team has leadership all over the field. A pair of goalkeepers, senior Brittany Senator and junior Shelby Wade, will share time in net. Senior defender and co-captain Izzy Sherfy anchors the defense while Milfeld and Zeier command the midfield and lead the attack.
“I plan on supporting the young players by pushing them at practice to make them a better player,” Milfeld said. “I’ll give them direction on and off the field on how to push themselves further than their expectations.”
The team’s freshmen will be relied upon to help make up for the 148 combined goals Capkovic and Niederschulte amassed during their four-year careers.
The team will have to stay healthy as well. The Gorloks have suffered five ACL injuries the past three years.
“If we can stay healthy and the freshmen can come in and provide us with what we think they can talent- and skill-wise, then I think we’re going to be right back up there,” Scire said.
Webster opens its season with back-to-back home games. The Gorloks play Nebraska Wesleyan University on Sept. 3 at noon and Milwaukee School of Engineering on Sept. 4 at 1 p.m.